GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH POMEGRANATE
by Romney Steele
Bright and mildly acidic pomegranate marries beautifully with rich meats. It is often paired with lamb in the Middle East, where both the fruit and pomegranate molasses (a syrup made by cooking down the seeds and juice) are popular in cooked dishes. Inspired by that part of the world, I've combined them with lavender flowers in a marinade for lamb chops. The fusion of flavors is a little eccentric for the uninitiated palate and may take you by surprise, so give it a moment to linger on the tongue. Serve the chops with a few leaves of arugula and couscous or other grain to round out the meal. You will want 2 or 3 chops per person, depending on their size. Have the butcher split and "French" a lamb rack for you, or chose loin chops. The marinade would also be lovely rubbed into a leg of lamb, then slow roasted in the oven or on a spit.
Serves 2 to 4
• Loin or rib chops, enough to serve
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
• 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
• 1 small shallot, finely chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers
• Seeds from 1 small pomegranate
• Handful arugula leaves
Trim any excess fat or gristle from the chops. Season with salt and pepper. Place in a shallow glass baking dish.
Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, shallot, garlic, rosemary, lavender, pinch of salt, and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Pour about half of the marinade over the chops. Loosely cover and set aside for an hour, turning to coat both sides once or twice during that time. Add half the pomegranate seeds to the remaining marinade, adding in a little more lemon juice to make it more like vinaigrette. Set aside.
Heat a stovetop grill pan or cast-iron skillet to medium-high. Add the chops and cook to desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Arrange on plates with a few leaves of arugula tucked underneath. Drizzle with the reserved marinade and scatter the remaining pomegranate seeds over the tops.